The Safety Risks of Heavy Electric Vehicles

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January 21, 2023
Edward Smith

NTSB Warns of Safety Risks with Heavy Electric Cars

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently expressed concern about the heavier vehicles driving on American roads. Jennifer Homendy, the head of NTSB, raised the issue during a speech at the annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting in Washington. In her keynote speech, Homendy said she’s worried about the increased risk of serious injury and death for everyone on the road from heavier and more powerful cars, including electric vehicles (EVs).

To put in perspective the difference in weight between a big electric SUV and a smaller internal combustion-engined car, Homendy noted that a GMC Hummer EV weighs about 9,000 pounds and carries a battery pack of 2,900 pounds. The battery pack alone is about the entire weight of a Honda Civic.

Why Electric Vehicles Must Carry Extra Batteries

An electric car’s driving range is impacted by its battery size. The bigger and heavier the battery, the longer the range. Batteries must weigh thousands of pounds to operate 300 or more miles of range per charge.

Electric vehicles also deliver instant power to their wheels, accelerating faster than most gas-powered cars. However, several companies are working to develop solid-state batteries, which have the potential to deliver the same range and energy in less mass.

Sales of New Electric Vehicles Have Increased

New EV sales in the United States rose about 65 percent in 2022 to 807,000. That’s about 5.8 percent of all recent vehicle sales. The Biden administration is offering tax credits of up to $7500 as an incentive to reach its goal of having electric vehicles reach 50 percent of new vehicle sales by 2030. However, automotive experts predict EVs will make up one-third of the new-vehicle market by 2030.

Significant Impact on All Road Users

Homendy said while she’s encouraged by the federal government’s plans to phase out carbon emissions from cars to deal with climate change, she’s still troubled about safety risks resulting from increased electric vehicles on our roadways. She said Americans must be careful not to create unintended consequences, such as more death on our roads. She said safety should not be overlooked, especially regarding new transportation technologies and policies.

While the NTSB investigates transportation crashes, it has no authority to make regulations. Such power rests mainly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

EVs are Heavier than Gas Powered Counterparts

The nation’s roadways are already crowded with large vehicles due to a boom in sales of SUVs, pickup trucks, and bigger cars in the past decades. However, EVs are much heavier than the largest gas and diesel-powered trucks and SUVs.

For instance, the Ford’s F-150 Lightning electric vehicle is about 3,000 pounds heavier than the same model’s gas-powered counterpart. The Volvo XC40 EV and the Mustang Mach E electric SUV are nearly 33 percent heavier than their combustion versions.

Center for Auto Safety 

Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, is also concerned about the weight of electric vehicles because he said most drivers demand a range of 300 or more miles per charge, which requires heavy batteries. From a safety perspective, he said setting up a charging network to accommodate heavier batteries may be a mistake because the bigger, heavier battery vehicles will cause more damage.

Brooks said most EVs have high horsepower ratings that allow them to accelerate quickly, and some drivers are not trained to handle that type of acceleration. He also said many newer electric vehicles are taller and have limited visibility, which poses a risk to smaller vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

According to a 2011 paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, getting hit by a vehicle with an extra 1000 pounds of weight in a car accident increases the probability of being killed by 47 percent.

Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about the potential dangers that heavy electric vehicles pose in collisions with lighter cars.

Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. Being injured in an accident can cause life-changing consequences. If you or a family member has been hurt in a recent accident in Sacramento or elsewhere in Northern California, call our legal team at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly case advice.

Our injury attorneys have obtained successful case outcomes on behalf of our clients since 1982. See our past case results for reference on our Verdicts and Settlements page.

Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

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